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Humour and metalanguage in the Terentian prologues

Grant number: 17/00076-8
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): April 01, 2017
Effective date (End): June 30, 2020
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Literature
Principal Investigator:Isabella Tardin Cardoso
Grantee:Aline da Silva Lazaro Bragion
Home Institution: Instituto de Estudos da Linguagem (IEL). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil

Abstract

This project aims a study of the prologues to the six known comedies penned by the Roman poet Publius Terentius Afer, 185-159 BC, namely Andria (166 BC), Hecyra (165, 160 BC), Heautontimoroumenos (163 BC), Eunuchus(161 BC), Phormio (161 BC) and Adelphi (160 BC). My interest in the prologues emerged while analysing Hecyra (The-Mother-in-Law) as part of my master's thesis. What drew my attention at the time was the peculiar existence of a double prologue, both of which narrate two earlier attempts to stage the comedy. After observing the manner in which the prologues report the interruptions of the Hecyra performances, I proposed an interpretation that differs from the "literal" reading normally afforded those passages. The justification is that the prologues are not merely factual and reference information regarding the context of the play context but rather a constitutive part of Hecyra's dramatic illusion. Viewed as such, I have, on the one hand, been able to show greater integration between the prologues and the action and, on the other hand, signalled the need to reconsider the profuse inferences within the Terentian prologues as regards the conditions of the theatre at the time (e.g., the status of poets, the audience and actors in ancient Rome) and the immanent poetic that can be inferred from the text (e.g., the concept of "originality" deductible from Hecyra's prologues). The dissertation to be developed shall analyse, thus, an expanded corpus and, based on the same methodology as my master's thesis, seek a deeper reflection on the moments of transition between the world of the audience and the world of the plays' fiction. More specifically, I intend to demonstrate the poetic and rhetoric elaboration of the prologues' verses, as well as function of the metapoetry inherent to them. In the vein of Plautine studies (Cardoso 2005, 2010, 2011), this dissertation shall demonstrate how such function is significant, on the one hand, to each of the plays' key parts and, on the other hand, how it influences on contemporary image of Terentian poetry and of Roman theatre as a whole.Keywords: Roman comedy, Terence, prologues, metalanguage, metapoetry